“It took months to write,” Leander, 13, shares about Un Sueño Tricolor, a book he and his brother, Jesús, 10, co-wrote. How many months? Leander sighs heavily. “About three months,” he says. Although, he admits, for a book, that’s a fairly short amount of time. “We had a clear idea before writing,” he explains. Leander and Jesús had a clear vision of the book they wanted to write, not only because the premise is lively and imaginative, but because the purpose driving the project forward was to help fund a cafeteria for children in Venezuela, their home country.
The brothers decided to create an imaginative tale about a horse forced to leave his home to depict the circumstances experienced by them and others in Venezuela. Un Sueño Tricolor is, as Leander describes it, “a kids’ book, but also a story about immigration, about what’s happening in Venezuela.” Through their imagination and precocious understanding of their experience, their book tackles an international crisis as well as the ever-present force of love in the face of adversity.
Leander and Jesús’s book is a labor of love, brotherhood and activism. Un Sueño Tricolor which translates to “A Tricolor Dream,” focuses on a Venezuelan horse named Thomas who is forced to flee to Brazil when his land and possessions are stolen. Along the way, he forms friendships, finds true love, and becomes a superhero who reclaims his home. The end is Jesús’s favorite part. “I like when all of the Spanish [speaking] animals chase the bad guys away,” he shares.
It’s a story close to their hearts as their family resettled in the United States as asylees in 2016 and continue to hear stories of Venezuela every day. “We saw people who couldn’t eat,” Leander shares. “We said, ‘what should we do, what should we do?’” Together, he and his brother decided to write a book to raise money.
Un Sueño Tricolor was published by Fundación Educando País, a Utah foundation that promotes learning and offers English classes. Through their efforts and the efforts of the brothers, book sales are being used to fund a cafeteria to feed children in Venezuela. “We were born there and when we see videos about Venezuela, we feel sad about it. It’s beautiful but...I just keep thinking about those kids in Venezuela because there were some mornings I couldn’t eat.”
The most prominent memories of Venezuela for Leander and Jesús is that of its beauty and that much of what they remember is, as they say, “destroyed.” Helping children in Venezuela is one way of restoring the country that they love. Their father, Jose Guevara, feels a deep sense of pride from his children and motivation, especially since “they wrote this at such a young age,” he shares.
“We like these social activities where we help the community,” Jose shares. “We always did, that’s why we do it here. The [Venezuelan] government didn’t like that we did that. The same for [Fundación Educando País] which teaches about democracy and human rights. This book narrates what my kids went through but also what many people in Venezuela are going through.”
Jesús and Leander believe that these messages are especially important coming from kids. “With kids, it’s way different,” Leander says. “Kids are explaining what’s happening and what they’re suffering, they will be heard more.” Next, the Guevara brothers will be working on an English edition of their book to raise donations for Venezuelan asylees living in the United States. In the meantime, they will continue to do other activities they love, like playing video games, riding bikes, and reading, including Jesús’s favorite book, Hatchet.
The dedication for the book reads: “Let this story go to all those children from any part of the world who were forced to migrate due to the violence of their country of origin.” You can read their book by purchasing Un Sueño Tricolor on Amazon.